Friday, January 21, 2011

A Year in the Life - Crocosmia 'Orangeade'

Crocosmia 'Orangeade'
Before I moved to Portland, I had never seen a Crocosmia, except on TV and in gardening books. At first, it seemed the only variety I ever saw was the bright red 'Lucifer'. Not being a big fan of bright red, I sort of wrote off all Crocosmias for a while. The more I explored other gardens around our neighborhood, however, the more varieties I discovered. There were lots of red ones, true, but there were also sunny yellows and glowing oranges, along with many combinations thereof. I suddenly had the feeling that somewhere out there, there might be a Crocosmia for me! As it turned out, I got this one, 'Orangeade' at Joy Creek of my favorite nurseries and home to many plants I've adopted over the past year or so :-) I like to think of 'Orangeade' as 'Lucifer's younger, hotter, funnier cousin :-)

In my garden, this Crocosmia seems to emerge at about the same time as other perennials...late February to early March. You can't miss the foliage, as it looks much like Iris foliage (to which it is related), but is slightly pleated.

Around the middle of July, 'Orangeade' starts to send up its little wands of flower spikes. this is actually my favorite stage in the plants growth. I love the little serpentine spikes, which reflex a bit, looking like little cobras. They are also vibrantly colored, as you can see above, with purple, orange and yellow.

'Orangeade' seems to begin flowering during the latter part of July. Although I often shy away from such brighly-colored flowers, I couldn't resist these. The interiors of the blossoms are more yellowish, but the reverse is a warm orange, giving the flowers a delicious multi-toned effect.

IMG_6091 This was the first full season for this plant (planted the previous autumn) and I was amazed at how much bigger it was from the previous season...I hadn't expected it to settle in so quickly! At first, there seemed to be perhaps a dozen or so flowering stems, but each few days, another one seemed to pop up and I'd estimate there were at least 30 or so flowering stems total...I can hardly imagine what this coming year will result in!

I particularly like how it's warm orangey color echos the Helenium 'Mardi Gras', growing at the north end of the bed and the Agastache 'Rupestris' that are scattered around the bed. I always try to repeat similar colors in the garden, even if it's with different types of really helps to pull your eye through the garden.

I also enjoy how this Crocosmia, along with the Agastache and Helenium sort of usher in a new season in the garden. The pinks and purple tones of spring and early summer give way to warmer colors...the oranges, reds and yellows.

At the height of their flower, 'Orangeade' literally stops people in their tracks. It's one of the few flowers that people will actually inquire about if I happen to be out in the garden doing chores. I even see people stop to admire it while walking their of the benefits of having such a short front yard...I can see exactly what's going on right from my office window! Of course, for each person who compliments it, an equal amount warn me about Crocosmia's propensity to colonize aggressively.

I really appreciate how well 'Orangeade' works will its neighbors, even blues...which I worried slightly about, the orange is so bright! Also, its bloom season overlaps nicely with Rudbeckia triloba (another neighbor). The play of the orange and bright yellow is wonderful and really is a harbinger or the autumnal hues which are starting to dominate in the garden.

In any case, 'Orangeade' typically tapers off its bloom toward the end of August, and is done by mid-September, at which time the neighboring Rudbeckia is a veritable cloud of tiny yellow blooms. I do need to find something hardy to cover it's bare little ankles, however :-)

Crocosmia are happily well-mannered enough to be self-cleaning, all the flowers drop off on their own after blooming. After the last of the blooms has faded, you are left with the ripening seed heads, which continue to provide a delightful architectural element to the garden. As you can see in the picture above, the curving, wavy wands of seed heads give a wonderful, textural quality.

So there you have it, Crocosmia 'Orangeade'. A hardy perennial related to the Iris, but growing from corms instead of rhizomes. Hardy to about zone 5 (unless I'm mistaken). In my garden, it seems to get between 2' - 2 1/2' tall. I've found this one to be extremely vigorous, floriferous and resistant to pests and disease. Give them a won't be disappointed! What about you have a favorite Crocosmia, do you even like you have horror stories of them rampaging through your garden?


  1. I'm with you - 'Lucifer' is impressive, but not for me. That orange one would suit me very well, though - one of my New Year's resolutions is to add more orange, so pretty with the purples, and as your pictures show, the sunny yellows.

  2. How have I not heard of this fabulous Orangeade before? Lovely color and wonderful photos.

    I do have C. 'Lucifer' in my garden, as well as another red that is a little more orange and also a yellow one. None of mine have become invasive spreaders, I wonder if the hard clay "soil" keeps them in check?

  3. I have a few varieties in orange, yellow and red, including Lucifer. My orange ones are not nearly as nice as yours. I do have an Emberglow which is really nice. I bought a Crocosmia pottsii 'Culzean Pink' from Joy Creek last year, it was at the end of the season and had only one flower left. As Joy Creek's website describes the color it's "not really pink but closer to apricot with hints of orange" I'm really excited for that one this year!

    Crocosmia are easy to dig up and divide if they get too big or too crowded making them great plants for sharing with friends. I got most of mine from a coworker who dug up two huge paper bags of corms and gave them to me.

  4. Seed sowing is the first step towards gardening. Gardening is a beautiful habit and hobby to follow as it gives content to the heart and peace to the mind. Even I have a small garden in my backyard but it is a pond garden.

  5. arg! keep your ads out of our garden blogs!

  6. I grew Crocosmia just one year in my zone 5 garden and I loved it! A blog friend from CA sent me the corms so I am not sure which variety it was.

    Unfortunatley it only lasted one year. I kept looking all last summer for its reappearance, but it never showed up. I guess my winters are too cold. I really missed it. Not only is it wonderful in the garden, but I adore it for indoor bouquets.

    I see I am not the only one getting garden spammers lately.

  7. I will have to look into Crocosmia. I really love orange and it looks so pretty next to your yellow and blue blooms. Your garden looks very pretty and I can't wait to see more....this spring.

  8. Years ago a friend gave me 3 blubs of what was likely 'Lucifer'. It slowly became near-weedy coming up everywhere. At the end of the the season two years ago, I was about ready to pull it out by the fistful. Then last year I may have had only half a dozen plants, and they did not bloom. I am not sure why this happened, and I regretted ever wanting to be rid of it. The flower has a special meaning to my wife and I, so I hope it returns.

  9. Crocosmias is on my list of plants to get this year. I saw them at a Lily Fest festival last summer and just loved them. The orangeade is a fantastic color and I have just the bed for it. It looks so good against the purple companions. Beautiful camera work Scott.

  10. Cyndy: You are so right…I love purple and orange together…those colors really sing together!

    DangerGarden: Thanks! If so, I'm in luck…my soil is such heavy clay they should be like little prisoners in a clay cell ;-)

    RyanMiller: After your description, I had to pop over to Joy Creek's website to take a look at 'Culzean Pink'! I can't wait to see what it looks like in your garden, that description makes it sound truly drool-worthy! I do hope they colonize the area and spread enough that I can divide them and spread them around and have extras. While poking around the Joy Creek site, I found one with yellowish flowers and bronzed foliage…sounds like I may be making a trip up to Scappoose when it's closer to planting season ;-)

    Pond Kits: Really.

    Ryan Miller: Ditto

    Zoey: Oh no! That's so sad…I think (even though it looks like they SHOULD be hardy to zone 5) I would dig them up in the fall like gladiolus, just to be safe :-)

    Amy: I know, it's so funny to think that when I was younger I HATED orange…couldn't stand it…now I find myself constantly drawn to orange…funny how that happens!

    Les: Oh no! I do hope they make a comeback…I'll cross my fingers for you!

    Hocking Hills Gardener: I can't wait to see how you use it in your garden! It has really been like a gateway drug for me and now I'm constantly on the look for new colors. Ryan Miller mentioned one above with apricot/orange coloring…sounds VERY seductive :-)

  11. I've always loved Crocosmia. And, in fact, I snitched some from a garden in Netarts, OR and brought it back to UT to see if it would take off here. Sadly it died a quick death. Next time we're driving through to the coast perhaps we'll try stealing some from your garden?? :D

  12. Nice shots and an endearing story, Scott. I've yet to get to Joy Creek. It's quite a drive for me but I've been checking out their clematis collection online. Not that I need another clematis, mind you. I like your Orangeade crocosmia. It might look good in my peachy red border. Hmmm... Great post!

  13. I just planted my first Crocosmia last summer and haven't seen it bloom yet. I haven't seen this one, it is really pretty. I've noticed that I've been adding more orange flowers the last couple of years, I never used to care for them until I started seeing how nice it can look against other colors.

  14. I've never heard of Orangeade before but I have the rampant and the not so rampant in my garden though I hope I've finally dug out all of the rampant. I'm buying Emily MacKenzie this year to add to my collection. I love how you described the flowers - little serpentine spikes, which reflex a bit, looking like little cobras. That's just the perfect description :)

  15. I've only just started seeing them in the garden magazines in the last year or two. At first I thought NO but after seeing your photos and hearing what you think I will be considering them this year.

  16. I grow "Lucifer" now and a lovely light orange cultivar with no name from Joy Creek. We grew a pretty rampant no-name crocosmia in my last garden - back when we were calling it montbretia. Orangeade looks great - that deep orange is worth having in the summer garden. I think we're all probably much better off with the cultivars as far as spreading is concerned. I want more of what I have, so it's all good.

  17. What a great post. We have Lucifer (I love saying that: we have the devil in our garden!) and I love the ease to grow he brings. Big and stately, the hummingbirds adore him in full bloom. However, without a little summer water he can get spider mites, and older stands need staking. Your post has convinced me I need Orangeade and will be keeping my eyes open for it. I wouldn't think it would play so well with a variety of colors but seeing it in your garden I can see how well it does. I have so much blue and purple, it would be the perfect contrast, and since it doesn't get as tall as the devil, even better. No staking. Sold!

  18. I grew Lucifer for a few seasons, then, it died. I tried an orange one called something like Columbus, but it only lived one season. I'm thinking the ones I've tried were for zone 6, and we are 5b. After seeing yours, I want to try again.

    I really enjoyed your post and photos. I am hoping the rest of winter goes by quickly.

  19. Kate: Oh no...your poor Crocosmia...if you stop by, I'll turn my back and what happens, happens ;-)

    Grace: Hahaha...yeah, Joy Creek is really famous for the Clems...everytime I go I have to restrain I'm definitely getting a "Roguchi" this year...I hope you can make it up sometime!

    Catherine: I was the same way, I never liked orange for the longest time...but I'm slowing acquiring more and more orange things!

    Leavesnbloom: Thanks! I love Emily MacKenzie...I actually thought that's what this was until it bloomed!

    Patty: They are really lovely plants if you find a suitable spot :-)

    MulchMaid: I'd love to see your orange Crocosmia...I remember reading old garden magazines and seeing it referred to as Montbretia...I think the Brits still refer to them as such. I agree about our soil...such heavy clay seems to curtail plants ability to spread...except for Monarda :-)

    LeLo: Hahaha...the devil indeed! I have really only started using orange in the last year or so, and have been pleasantly surprised at the electrifying combos it creates! I also have A LOT of blue and purple (my faves).

    Sue: Thanks so much for dropping by again, Sue...always good to see you! I think there is a big variation in which Crocosmias are hardy where...I would almost be tempted to dig up the corms (like gladiolus) if I were growing in Nebraska.

  20. Wow. I love that color! The only one I've ever grown is Lucifer because it's the most reliably hardy to zone 5. Now to find me a source for this one so I can give it a whirl...

  21. Orangeade looks remarkably similar to Fire of Eden. Is it the same flower? I had some in Pa and am trying to find it here in NC. Will most likely order it online....WAE